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Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson reveals the Vision Vancouver platform for the civic election during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday October 29, 2014.

DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

It will take Vision Vancouver a year to 18 months to pay off the nearly $500,000 debt the party ran up during last fall's municipal election campaign.

Election disclosure statements were released earlier this week and revealed Vision spent about $3.4-million, while taking in just over $2.9-million in donations.

The amount was the most a Vancouver political party has ever spent on a campaign, prompting renewed calls for election reform.

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Maria Dobrinskaya, the party's vice-chair, said Vision will rely on its donors and fundraising to make up the difference.

"We'd like to, obviously, pay it off as quickly as we can, but in enough time that we're in a position where we're able to then continue to raise money for the next election. I'd like it to be a year, but we're probably looking at more like 18 months," she said in an interview.

Vision spent about $2-million in the 2008 civic campaign, and $2.2-million in 2011.

Ms. Dobrinskaya said the additional spending in last year's campaign was necessary, although she added that municipal election reform is badly needed.

"It's way too much money to be spending in an election campaign. I mean, Vision has been really forthright in advocating for campaign finance reform. … I think it's pretty clear with this type of money being spent that we need some significant and meaningful reform," she said.

"Having said that, there's a lot at stake in our city and the policy agenda that Vision has been successful to implement thus far and the policy goals we still have, I think, are very much worth spending what we needed to spend."

Vision and the Non-Partisan Association released preliminary contribution lists a week before the Nov. 15 vote. Vision, at the time, said it had raised $2.2-million. The NPA said it had raised $2.1-million.

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With the race tightening, Vision's donations surged in the final stretch of the campaign.

The NPA raised a total of about $2.5-million.

Although Gregor Robertson was re-elected as mayor, and Vision retained its hold on council, the party lost its majority on the school board and the parks board.

Kirk LaPointe, the NPA's mayoral candidate, said Vision obviously felt it was in a battle and needed to spend more than usual.

He said the amount Vision spent reinforces the need for change.

"I think what we all need is a healthy dose of campaign finance reform before the next election," he said in an interview.

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Mr. LaPointe said he did not have a specific cap in mind because campaigns can be unpredictable.

Max Cameron, a political science professor at the University of British Columbia, echoed the calls for campaign reform.

"The absence of any regulation governing campaign finance … means that we see what [appears to be]the influence of money in politics. I think it's always a concern when we see really substantial donations being made," he said in an interview.

The B.C. ministry responsible for municipal elections wrote in a statement that campaign reform is under way, pointing to an act that was passed last spring. However, it said due to the magnitude of the changes, the province decided not to include expense limits for 2014.

The ministry said the provincial government is committed to expense limits for 2018.

The election disclosure statements were released on Monday by Elections B.C.

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Prof. Cameron said Vision's statements were easier to interpret than the NPA's. He noted that the NPA listed several donations from numbered companies. Some of the numbered companies appeared to be developers, while others could not be easily identified.

Mr. LaPointe said there was "no deliberateness to it" and referred comment to party president Peter Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong could not be reached.

With a report from Frances Bula

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